Like the three days Jesus was in the grave, in Revelation, there is a time when evil is winning. We know that it doesn’t win ultimately, but take a minute to think about the chaos, pain, and sorrow that would be associated with evil winning. Now take a minute to praise God that he wins.
- 6-12 – God declares to those who were taken into exile and have been in Babylon, that he will restore Jerusalem and that even others will turn to God because of God’s restoration of Israel.
- 1-10 – Part of restoring Jerusalem and the temple was restoring the priests. Joshua’s clean garments are symbolic of his return to God.
- 1-4 – The people should not be worshipping the beast or the dragon. They are not God. They are some of the many other entities that the world chooses to follow other than God.
- 5-10 – For a time, evil is allowed to prevail. Those who were not already saved began to follow the evil ruler. Because the saints were temporarily defeated, this was a test of their faithfulness and patient endurance.
- 11-18 – Like the people of the Lord were marked and sealed for Christ, now those who follow the beast are marked for him.
- 1-4 – So often our requests of God are to benefit just us. David’s request asks for God’s help to remain faithful.
- 8-10 – David also asks for safety from his enemies.
Remember the Garden of Eden way back in Genesis in January? That was something perfect and wonderful God gave Adam and Eve. As we know, they found a way to use what was good for evil. They ate the forbidden fruit, bringing sin into the world, and ultimately got kicked out of the garden. Twice in today’s readings we’ll learn about people using good things in ways they weren’t intended by God. First, the golden vessels from the temple in Daniel, and then money in Proverbs. How can you relate in your own life?
- 1 – King Belshazzar followed King Nebuchadnezzar.
- 2-4 – Clearly, this was not the original intent for the gold vessels. They were dedicated to God and now King Belshazzar is defiling them by throwing parties with them.
- 5-31 – Through a freaky happening, King Belshazzar gets bad news. Daniel is the only one who can explain the message from God. He is raised to a high rank in the kingdom.
2 Peter 2:1-22:
- 4-11 – We often think those who do evil get away with a lot, but this reminds us that God offers good things to the righteous and those who do evil receive punishment. It may not always be obvious.
- 17-22 – It is really bad to begin a life of righteousness and commit to Christ but then turn and act as if you never did.
- 114-120 – The psalmist contrasts his love for the law and the ability of those around him to draw him and others away from God.
- 19-20 – Like with many things, being rich is not bad and God doesn’t hate us for it. God looks at our intent and focus. He looks at what we put before him. If pursuit of money is before him, that’s a problem.
Christ’s sacrifice set us free from sin and death and took us out from under the weight of the law. We now receive salvation as a free gift offered through God’s grace. But Paul reminds us, in Ephesians, that our freedom should be used to become more Christlike and to serve more selflessly. Freedom was not extended so we could use it frivolously and sin more simply because we can. Let us, as believers, use our freedom for the good of others and glory of God.
- 1-17 – God acknowledges that he did allow the Israelites to go into exile, but tells them that he is going to restore them and their enemies will not be able to overtake them anymore.
- 1-13 – The words to the Israelites are restorative and healing. God paints a picture of taking great care of the Israelites.
- 1-13 – Here the Lord explains what happens if sinners don’t repent. He continues to mock all kinds of idolatry.
- 5-9 – Though we are free, this is a good word for how each of us should work too. We are to work hard for good. That good will be returned to us.
- 10-17 – These verses remind us that God gives us all kinds of tools to protect us from any attacks that might come our way. We simply have to use them.
- David is quick to encourage the hearer to praise God and remain humble that God is the one with the power.
- This goes further than don’t do evil. Don’t even plan to do evil.
God does not give us everything we want. That is not said anywhere in the Bible. It does say that God gives us good gifts. It does say that we need to ask and seek God. It does say that he has great plans for us. Today’s Romans reading has a verse that is often misconstrued as, “God will give you anything you ask for.” Be sure to read the whole verse…and the ones surrounding it for that matter.
2 Chronicles 11:1-13:22:
- 1-12 – Like we learned in 2 Kings, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son split off and took only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. This is the portion of Israel that the line of David still possessed.
- 1-5 – Once Rehoboam allowed the Lord to bless and establish him, he abandoned God and his law. Though this sometimes works for a while, ultimately it leads to failure. God made it clear that Rehoboam would fall to Shishak as punishment.
- 4-12 – Abijah, the new king of Judah, from the line of David, is at war with Jeroboam. At this time, Abijah makes it clear that he and the people of Judah are actually following God’s commands while the people still known as Israel are not.
- 24-25 – If we can already see the fruition or completion of something, we do not have to hope it will happen. We already know it will. We can only have hope when we can’t see the end result.
- 26-27 – This is encouragement for us when we say we don’t know how or what to pray. We can trust that the Spirit will give us the words to pray.
- 28 – This is a verse that gets misquoted and misinterpreted often. Note that there are some important caveats. The person has to love the Lord and they have to be called according to his purpose. We cannot simply decide we want something to happen and God grants it. He is not a genie. We have to be working for his purpose out of our love for him. In those cases, God works all things together for good.
- 29-30 – The word “predestined” tends to trip people up. This passage is explaining that God, in his sovereignty, knows us before we can know him and he calls us to become more like his son who is the ultimate model for us.
- 31 – Something to remember when it seems like evil is winning.
- 35-39 – Powerful encouragement that nothing is stronger than the grip with which God holds onto us. He will not allow anything to separate us.
- This is still the Psalm where David is released from his enemies and the pursuit of Saul.
- David continues to give God praise for rescuing him and allowing him to overcome his enemies. This is an excellent Psalm for those who feel that evil is winning in some part of their lives.
- Sometimes circumstances allow or force us to discontinue faithfully listening to wise counsel. Just look at Rehoboam’s story from yesterday’s reading. He ceased to hear instruction to be kind to his constituents.
Have you noticed yet, in 1 & 2 Kings, what the biggest factor in a king being a good or bad one is? In general, if they follow and worship God, they’re a good king. If they do not, they’re a bad king. Do you think that translates into our culture in any way?
2 Kings 9:14-10:31:
- 14-22 – Joram was king of Israel. Jehu wanted to be. Ahaziah was the short-lived king of Judah. Jehu confirms that he’s not coming in peace because peace is impossible while Joram still allows his mother, Jezebel’s evil ways to remain in the land.
- 25-26 – King Ahab wanted to buy Naboth’s plot of land, but Naboth wouldn’t sell. Jezebel told Ahab to have Naboth killed, so he did.
- 29 – This is the same Ahaziah that just died. There was also a king of Israel named Ahaziah, but he’s already come and gone.
- 1-8 – Naturally, one of Ahab’s sons should have become king after Ahaziah’s death, but Jehu assures that doesn’t happen by killing them all.
- 18-31 – Jehu seems to have such potential to be faithful to God by wiping out Baal from Israel, but he remains sinful in other ways.
- 1- Thessalonica is where Paul sent the Letter to the Thessalonians. He did not visit all the churches he wrote to, but this is one he did.
- 2-9 – Jason was a local believer who allowed Paul and Silas to stay with him. He was punished with a fine for hosting the apostles.
- 11-12 – People weren’t simply believing blindly, but were studying the Scriptures to discern and it led them to the truth.
- 22-34 – Paul’s address to the people of Athens is powerful and convincing, even quoting some of their culture’s writings. As was always the case, some were convinced and some were not.
- 1-2 – War was a way of life for David. While some he talks about are internal, he often is talking about real wars.
- It is clear, due to the frequency with which David addresses God in these ways, that he views God as his provider and protector.
- 28 – This is the origin of the well-known adage, “Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”